While the last post referred to events we witnessed from afar (Amsterdam; Germany) this report now copied below recounts the activities at a sequence of events we participated in.
During the Rag Week Storming of the Trinity Bastille in 1977, I gazed down at the events from the snooker room in Trinity and hoped, in the event that the mob reached that area, that I would be able to explain that I was actually "one of their own". My dilemma never ultimately occurred and I watched with delight as the boys from the country, who had their lunch at midday, gave one to the ill-prepared defenders of the last educational bastion of the British Empire. Pride, go for it boys, pride.
UCD Rag Week hit the headlines again in 1976 when hundreds of students ran riot through the centre of Dublin. Traffic was severely disrupted when “several hundred undergraduates … congregated at the top of Grafton Street”. The first garda called on the scene was pelted with eggs and flowers and was forced to retreat. The assistant manager of the Ambassador Cinema on O’Connell Street rang the UCD Students’ Union to complain about what he called the “disgraceful” behaviour of students who tried to force their way into the cinema without paying. UCD students also jumped into the River Liffey en masse.
Later that evening, a group of students from Bolton Street College of Technology telephoned The Irish Independent and claimed that they had kidnapped the organiser of the UCD Rag Week, Mr. Billy McGrath “in retaliation for their attack on Bolton Street”. ‘Captain Blue’, a spokesperson for the Bolton St. students demanded back the College clock which they accused UCD students of stealing. They were also requested a barrel of Guinness and a £10 donation to a charity of the Irish Independent’s choice.
In February 1977 as part of Rag Week celebrations, over one hundred UCD students invaded Trinity College, the College of Surgeons and Kevin Street College causing £3,200 worth of damage.
Newspaper reports describe how the UCD students “scaled the walls of Trinity by rope” after the gates were closed to them
Once inside, the UCD mob used a car belonging to a member of TCD staff as a battering ram to get into the Museum building. They also stole a large notice from the college entrance. A Kevin Street College of Technology laboratory was also damaged during the rampage. Eamon Gilmore, current Labour Party president and the then president of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI), blamed the trouble on a “fringe hooligan” element who he said should be identified and made to pay the bill for the damages they cost.
Condemnation came from various circles in society including the Irish Housewives’ Association. Charles McNally, the then UCDSU president announced, that the Union had voted for fundamental changes to the College’s Rag Week, in future “it would be a Community Week devoted to helping the community and city centre forways would be banned”
The Rag Week pranks and “high jinks” of UCD which were a staple annual event are now just a distant memory. Who knows if they’ll ever return?